Planned travels for 2016

Hi guys,

Sorry for the long absence! Work kicked up for me a bit, so much of my “free time” has been working away, with a few breaks of Netflix on the couch.

Last time I blogged, I mentioned that I’m currently starting to think about my upcoming travels. So far I have booked a couple of trips, but I’m still finalising others. However, this is what I’m currently thinking (please note, none of the below photos are mine and are all sourced from Google images):

First weekend of May- this one has been booked for awhile and I’m super excited! I’m heading to Amalfi Coast in Italy. Assen and I are flying into Naples, stopping for some pizza (Naples is where pizza comes from), heading to Pompeii for the day, and then heading to our hotel on the Amalfi Coast for the weekend. It’s the weekend before my birthday so it is the official way I am entering my 30’s!

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Last week of May/first week of June- heading home for a trip to Canada! My friend and I are spending a week in Montreal and Quebec City- which will be the farthest East I’ve ever been in Canada. It’s supposed to be beautiful, so I’m really excited to see it. Seems like you never explore your own backyard, so this is a trip I’ve been putting off for years. The second week I’m visiting family, with 4 days with my dad in Central Canada, and 4 days with my mom in Western Canada.

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July- heading for a week in Bulgaria, which will hopefully also include 1/2 a week in Turkey. Some may remember that last year I was supposed to go to Turkey, but ended up with visa issues since my passport was about to expire. This time I’m hoping for a few days at the sea side in Bulgaria, and a few days exploring Istanbul.

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August- I currently don’t have anything planned for this month, but there is a long weekend so I’m thinking of heading on a solo trip. I’m debating between Ireland and Sweden- two very different locations, I know. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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September- my mom and I are trying to plan a trip for a week or two in September. We’re currently talking going to Paris, and then exploring the countryside of France- either Bordeaux region, or Normandy. Again, any advice would be amazing, as we’re still debating where best to go.

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October- Assen and I have booked the first week of October off. I’m currently trying to convince him for a week long trip to Dubai. I’ve recently known a few people who have gone, and it just seems so different, and such an experience. He’s not convinced yet, so we’ll see if we end up on a beach somewhere for this trip (our alternative plan for this week is heading to Canary Islands and spending a week sitting on the beach with a cocktail).

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If anyone has been to any of the areas, and has suggestions for what I should see, or where best to go- I would love the tips and advice!

How about everyone else? What are your upcoming travel plans?

Lately

Hi friends,

How’s everyone enjoying their short week? I keep on forgetting that Friday is a day off- and was on a call with someone yesterday and commented that we could meet on Friday. Surprisingly, she was not a fan of this plan😛

So today I’m off for a quick work trip to Hamburg, Germany.

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Now, I’ve never been before so when my travel companion (a work colleague) decided that he was taking a later flight, and would be arriving at 10 pm, I decided instead that I would be flying at a different time. So I get to enjoy a 3 pm flight, and will be landing in Hamburg for 5:45. It won’t give me much time but at least I’ll have a chance to see something. I leave Wednesday immediately after my second meeting of the day, so tonight will be my only chance for some site seeing.

If anyone’s been, I’d love to hear some tips of what’s good to see!

Besides that, Assen’s heading to Bulgaria on Saturday, for a week to spend some time with his family.

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Assen’s family from our last trip to Bulgaria.

While he’s away, I plan on watching girly movies, eating vegetarian food (Assen is a big meat eater, so he’s never keen for a fully vegetarian meal unless I can sneak it by him), and some YOGA:) I realise my website name is “Yogi in Action”, yet it seems like it’s been a long time since I spoke about yoga at all! I promise- I have a full post coming up all about yoga for anyone who is desperately waiting for some mention of it:)

I’m looking into a 4 day trip away to Spain from 1-4 April, with a 2 hour yoga class each morning, followed by a relaxing day of very little. I haven’t fully confirmed it yet, so it may fall through, but I think it’s exactly what I need after being a busy bee for the past 3 months (I haven’t even left the country since New Years!)

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That will be my view if I can go!

I’m in the process of confirming the rest of my travel for the year. On Sunday I did the first step- which is budgeting all of the trips I want to take. It’s times like that, that I know I’m a nerd! I spent about an hour on Sunday, looking at my various “flexible” costs to make sure I’m still meeting my savings goal for the year, but can also travel to all the places that I want. I got to the point where I can make it all work (if anyone is interested in more detail, let me know- personal finances is something that is very near and dear to my heart so I’m always happy to discuss) so now I just need to confirm dates with people, and another good year of travels will be off!

How about everyone else? What are you up to for Easter?

 

The Lonely Traveller

Hi friends,

How’s everyone’s week starting off? Anyone excited for St. Patty’s day on Thursday? In Canada, I used to celebrate this day every year, wear some green clothing, drink a couple of green beers- the whole 9 yards. It seems as though the UK doesn’t really get into the celebrations as much (or maybe just I’m getting older so don’t hang out with those who do celebrate)  but for the past few years, I haven’t done anything to celebrate.

So today, I thought I’d talk about something that I’ve noticed for quite some time. I’m going to call it the Lonely Traveller (because it sounds super melodramatic and like the story of a novel I would definitely read).

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When I was back in Canada, visiting my family in August, I was sat at the dinner table with my parents, grandma, aunt, and sister. I hadn’t seen some of my family in a couple of years, and I was excited to tell them about the travels I had been on, and how living in a different country was going. However, before I knew it, the meal was over, and no one had asked a single question about it, and instead we had spent most of the meal discussing Caitlyn Jenner, and the price of fruits and vegetables (2 separate topics of course).

This coincided with something that I have subtly known for quite some time but never wanted to admit. And it’s this: No one cares about my travels. That sounds super depressing, but honestly, I don’t think anyone really cares about anyone else’s travels.

Now I love talking about my travels (obviously- I have an entire blog devoted to it!). It’s a huge part of my life and something I’m immensely interested in. And sometimes it can feel almost like a personal insult when people don’t want to discuss travels with me- as it feels like they don’t care about me personally.

However, I get it. We all want to talk about things that we can identify with. People love talking about weddings, because we’ve all at least attended a wedding and can contribute to the conversation. Or about buying a house, as most adults (or at least a lot of adults I work with) have gone through that. But travels are something that are inherently very personal- some trips can feel absolutely life-changing, but they are only life-changing for the person who experienced the trip.

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I remember coming back from back-packing SE Asia after University, and being so excited to share all of my pictures. And sitting down with one friend and he started having a look through them. As he looked at the pictures, I filled him in with the details behind the pictures, and funny stories of that day, and I was getting more and more excited for each picture to show up so I could share more. But yet, as I got more and more excited, I could see his eyes glazing over more and more.

Finally, he admitted defeat, and told me that we would look at the rest of the pictures “later”. It’s been 6 years and “later” has never come.

And as sad as it makes me, I get it. I don’t like looking at thousands of picture’s either (unless they’re my own, of course). No matter how beautiful the image, or how amazing the story is, I would say that most people have an attention span for these things of about 20 minutes, and that’s if they truly love you. With strangers- probably closer to 5. After that, it’s not interesting for them anymore.

Which means that when your someone who loves traveling, and loves thinking about the next place to travel, and you want to talk about it, it can be lonely. Because unless you have someone who loves traveling like you do, they want to talk about anything else.

After I realised this, and felt sad about it for awhile, I realised there are also a couple of positives from this realisation.

First, I take a lot fewer pictures. I try and enjoy the moment I’m in, and truly experience it, rather than snapping a thousand pictures to look at later and have something to show someone. The pictures that I do take, are for me, and therefore have more sentimental value. Sure, I’ll snap a few on my phone for Instagram, but I would say about 90% of my photos are never shared with anyone but myself.

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Second, I cherish conversations with people that I meet traveling that much more. Fellow travellers are probably the only exception to those who want to talk travels- but that’s because they can compare their own stories with you.

Ultimately, traveling is about your own passion. While it can be sad that I can’t share it with others, I try and understand that it’s not anything personal, and remember that I travel for myself, not to have stories for the dinner table.

So friends and family- I get it. And I promise to not force you to look through all of my pictures, if you promise me that I don’t have to look through all of yours.

How about other travel-lovers out there? Do you ever feel lonely about not being able to talk all travel all the time?

Day in the life, plus some food

Hi friends,

How was everyone’s weekend? Sorry to be posting a day later than usual- I had a very lazy Sunday and couldnt’ motivate myself to do anything, including typing up a post for you guys:)

One of the things I was doing this weekend was looking at some old posts back on my blog, and remembering how I first got started. I like to read health and fitness blogs, so when I first started posting, my focus was mostly on the food I ate and the exercise that I was completing. However, I soon realised that I am not the person to have a food and health blog- yes I enjoy it, but I’m just as likely to be found on my couch with a glass of wine, binge watching Netflix; as I am to be found doing any kind of exercise. As my life has changed, so too has my blog, and now I think all I blog about is travels.

However, as a throw back to the past, I thought I would do a half way “Day in the Life of” along with my eats of the day from yesterday. Hopefully some will enjoy!

7:30 am- alarm goes off. I realise I’m working from home so don’t quite have to get out of bed. I snooze my alarm and fall back asleep.

8 am- my alarm is again going off, and this time it’s actually time to get out of bed! I roll out of bed, have a quick shower, make myself a vanilla latte and have an orange juice and am in front of my computer by 8:30.

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9:30 am- I’m now all caught up on my emails, and realise I haven’t had anything to eat. I go downstairs and quickly put together a smoothie for myself (ingredients: Spinach, 1/2 of an avocado, mango, banana, protein powder, and water) as well as make myself a green tea. Within 15 minutes, I’m back upstairs and back to work.

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11:30- I’ve been reviewing some work for the past 2 hours and realise that I’m getting quite hungry, but it’s a bit early to stop for lunch. I also haven’t had any water yet today, so I grab myself a quick snack (love these bars- the ingredient list is always two or three ingredients) as well as a big glass of water.

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1:30- finally lunch time! At about 12:45, Assen had come upstairs to see if I wanted some lunch. Unfortunately we hadn’t done our grocery shopping yet for the week, so we didn’t have any ingredients at home. We agree to head over to the express grocery store we live by at 1 pm. With the ingredients we pick up, I made myself a chicken sandwich (with tomatoes, cucumber, spinach and cheese), a handful of salt and vinegar chips, and a tomato, lentil soup. I also make myself an Italian soda, with blueberry flavouring and soda water. I was going to watch an episode of Big Bang Theory while I ate, but I forgot I had a call at 2, and end up prepping for the call while trying to eat quickly.

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4 pm- I’ve been in calls pretty much non-stop since my 2 pm call. I got off my call at 4 pm and realise I’m starting to feel a bit hungry, so I make myself another tea (this one a flavoured black tea) and cut up an apple with some peanut butter. And for good measure, I have another handful of chips (I have a chips problem- if they’re in the house, I will eat them). I had some mindless reviewing to do, so I watched an episode of Big Bang Theory in the background while working. It takes me about 2 hours to watch 1 episode because I keep pausing it so I can focus on what I’m reading.

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I work until 7 pm, and finally call it a day. I really should’ve worked later, but, as previously mentioned, Assen and I hadn’t yet done our grocery shopping yet for the week. I head over to the grocery store, and Assen agrees to do a couple loads of laundry while I’m gone. By the time I come home, it’s just after 8 pm. I put away the groceries and start making some dinner, and have a glass of wine, with a few snacks of dried mango while I do so (and of course…a bit of Netlfix to keep me company).

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I’m not going for anything complicated tonight, so dinner is done in about 20 minutes. I baked the salmon with some seasoning, and had bought a frozen bag of mixed veggies, which I stir fried in a bit of coconut oil. Considering the amount of chips I’ve already eaten today (there were a few handfuls that I did not take pictures of), I decide to go carb-less for dinner.

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10 pm- I have a couple pieces of chocolate (Lindt caramel with sea salt flakes…mmmm- obsessed!) and start putting together this blog post. Once done, a warm bath and a cup of herbal tea is calling my name.

11:30- time for bed! I’m working from home again tomorrow, so I lay in bed, playing on my phone for longer than I should since I know it won’t be an early morning.

And that’s an easy day in the life of me:) I used to work a lot more, but this year have really been trying to draw more boundaries around my job. I really try and stop work around 7 pm most nights, and I”m trying to stop working on weekends. I don’t always make it (I worked for about 4 hours this Sunday), but it’s made a much better balance in my life than I had this time last year.

How about everyone else out there? What’s a typical day in the life of you?

Traveling: Save vs. Splurge

Hi all,

Happy Leap Day! Anyone doing anything exciting with the extra day of the year? Sadly I will be at work and then buying groceries, so I anticipate my extra day will be quite mundane!

If you’re taking the day off, or have some extra time, check out my new page: Traveling. I spent some time this weekend, putting together all of my past travel recaps into one place!

I was recently reading the blog, Fitnessista, and Gina had a post about Health and Fitness: splurge vs save (link here). After which, I started thinking about traveling, and where I prefer to splurge and spend the extra money, and where I prefer to save.

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My personal list:

Traveling: Save vs Splurge

Save: Hotel prices

I like to stay in clean, quiet hotels, but after that, I try and find a cheap option which is close to where I want to be. I find that besides sleeping at night, I don’t often spend much time at my hotel, therefore the extra’s that you get with pricey hotels (such as gyms, pools, fancy hotels, room service), I don’t use anyways! If I want to work out, I bring my iPad and my travel yoga mat, otherwise walking around as I explore is my main work out. This is one of the reasons I love AirBnB so much- you have a kitchen if you want to cook, and the prices are generally half of what hotels are.

Save and splurge: Flight prices

I like to try and find cheap flight options, however I’ve included this as a bit of a splurge because I also have certain factors I consider. If at all possible, I try and go for the direct option. Sometimes having multiple stops can make a flight much cheaper, but do you really want it to take 32 hours to fly from London to Munich?! Therefore, my conditions are:
1) Flight time under 4 hours? Try and find direct!
2) Flight time greater than 4 hours? Try and find one with only 1 lay-over.

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(That one was taken after Assen and I spent the night trying to sleep in the Toronto airport- hence the coffee the size of my head).

However, I save a lot with flying with cheap options (EasyJet, IcelandAir, RyanAir, etc.) which provide no extras (on IcelandAir, you fly for 8 hours and they give you free beverages and everything else you need to pay for- including food!).

Splurge– Guided tours

I love, LOVE, LOVE tours when I’m in a new place. A lot of cities have free tours, which you just tip the guide at the end. However, if I’m touring something specific- I love to have someone teaching me the details. I’ve now taken trips with Viator for a tour of the Vatican in Rome, a tour of the Sintra castle in Portugal, and the castles around Munich. I find their tours to not be crazy expensive, but the tour guides are always fantastic and the tour itself is well organised. Therefore, I don’t mind spending a bit more when I know the quality will be high.

Save– souvenirs

When on holiday, I often see paintings, clothing, tea mugs- and in the moment, my brain starts telling me “YOU NEED THAT!” However, once I get home, the “I❤ NY” t-shirt goes in the closet, never to see the light of day again, and the mug goes in the cupboard. A lot of those souvenirs are not things that you will actually want when you get home. I have gotten in the habit of getting a magnet everywhere I go- it costs me around 2-5 pounds each time, and I love looking at them on the fridge. Everything else, I leave behind at the destination.

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(Breaking my rule when buying ALL THE CHOCOLATE in Switzerland)

Splurge– food

This one is a bit of a mix for me. I’m all for having cheap food for most of the holiday, however, for a real authentic experience- I will always pay more for the real thing! I would much rather eat real gelato while in Italy, then buy the cheapest stuff I can find.

When my friend and I were in Spain, we fell into the tourist trap of “Five tapas for 10 Euros”. It sounded like such a good deal that we went into the restaurant- and had one of the most disappointing meals of our trip! It was much better when we paid a bit extra and got the authentic paella (and the sangria! mmmmm).

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Splurge– location

When I first moved to the UK, and starting planning trips, I noticed there was a lot of places to go to in Europe, which I had never heard of (which, if you know me, is not surprising as I’m not great with geography). Those places I hadn’t heard of where MUCH cheaper than flying to the places I wanted to visit.

While I’m sure that the places are nice (and maybe some would be even better than the places I’ve been)- I didn’t dream of traveling to a small city in Germany which I had never heard of. I wanted to see Paris, and Rome, and Munich. Walk through the ruins of Ancient Greece while in Athens, and swim in the water of the Algarve, in Portugal. Even though those places are more expensive to visit, I will have the memories of being in those places for the rest of my life. To see the sites I wanted to see have made it more than worthwhile!

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Spending New Years Eve at the base of the Eiffel Tower will forever make my inner 10-year old self squeal with joy!

So those are my personal splurge vs. save’s for traveling. I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks!

Let’s have a wine date

Hi friends,

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was filled with relaxing, coffee, and not too much work, so I can’t complain.

I always love when blogs have a “glass of wne” and chat about what’s happening in their life. I think it draws the curtain back a bit and helps show how different real life is compared to blog life- as there’s always a lot that happens day-to-day that isn’t shared on an online forum.

So, let’s have a glass of wine, and share what’s happening in our lives.

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If I was to go first, I would mention how frustrating getting my visa extended has been this year. I moved to the UK over two years ago, on a secondment from my office in Canada (I work at an international accounting firm). The agreement was I would be gone for 18 months, and then return to my firm for another 18 months with them. In exchange, they cover my moving costs both when I moved to the UK, and returning to Canada. However, 18 months into my secondment, I realised I wasn’t quite done in the UK and so I extended for another year. That year is now up, and I wanted to extend again. However, the Canadian firm has come back and told me they do not support this extension and want me to instead return back home. This has been going back and forth for almost two months now, and has changed tone several times- first with me looking into moving into a different department, then returning in June, followed by the offer to return in September. I’ve continued to say I want another year, and it’s now looking like in order to do so, I will have to quit my firm back home. Which is a scary concept, as that means I no longer have a job held for me when I return to Canada.

I’d also talk about how much of a struggle making this decision has been. On the one hand, I so badly want to be close to my family and my friends, and to feel like I can really settle in and be somewhere for a long time.

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Me and my mom- one of the people I miss the most:)

On the other hand, returning to Canada means a lot less international trips. You can’t go on a weekend get-away to Italy when you live in Canada! You can barely go on a weekend get-away to a different province, especially with the flight costs when flying within Canada. As everyone who reads this blog knows, I love traveling, and it would be a very dramatic change to move back to Canada and have that be a smaller part of my life.

On a lighter note, I would probably also tell you about how Assen and I went to a TRX class last weekend- and neither of us could move for about 4 days afterwards. I’ve never worked so hard in a class, and I have never been so sore afterwards. I was proud of myself for being able to make it through the hour workout, but I don’t see myself returning anytime soon- as the day afterwards I sneezed, and it hurt my abs so much that I wanted to cry!

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This is why I work out at home!

Finally, I’d also mention how my 30th birthday is only a few short months away, and everytime I think about it, I start thinking back over my 20’s and how much I’ve changed, and my life has changed in the past 10 years. I’ve also noticed how many jokes tv shows make about how women are over-the-hill or no longer attractive once their 20’s are over! While part of me feels a little sad that I will never be a young, hip, everything is brand new and exciting 18 year old again, I’ve really started to feel settled into who I am in the past couple of years, and that to me feels more comfortable and a better place to be in my live. When I was 18 (or even 20), I so badly wanted to be accepted by everyone, and I was so afraid of missing out on something- the best party, the best friends, etc. Now that I’m just about 30, I feel perfectly happy to stay in, by-myself, with a glass of wine and a movie. I have friends that I love and know every deep dark secret of mine, and a great boyfriend who does things like make a pillow fort for me on Christmas morning when I’m feeling sad since I’m not with family.

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So now it’s your turn! If we were having wine (or a beverage of your choice), what would you talk about?

3 steps for traveling with a partner who doesn’t like to travel

Hi friends,

Since I’m all caught up with my travels, I thought I’d switch it up some today, and instead talk about something that comes up a lot with my travels.

I love traveling. If I could, I would travel all the time. You can pretty much name any spot in the world, and I want to visit there!

Egypt? Yep

Brazil? Yep

Cuba? Yep

Korea? If I could do it safely- I’d go!

However, my boyfriend is not a big fan of traveling. He doesn’t mind it, but he would rather spend his money on a nice car, or save it to buy a big house. Therefore, it can make it really hard to try and find a middle ground that makes us both happy.

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As such, I thought today I’d take about what works for us so that I can travel, and Assen doesn’t feel like every cent he earns goes towards travel.

Step 1: Learn your travel style

If it were up to me, every long weekend, and holiday time, would be spent in a new place. And not just one place- if I have 8 days, I feel like I can see 2 new places, at least. The first time Assen and I ever went traveling together, we spent 4 days in Rome, and then 4 days in Paris- and we just about killed each other during the trip.

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Those smiles might look happy, but there were a lot of evil glares behind the scenes.

This is because Assen and I have different traveling styles. Assen’s happiest sitting on a beach, having a couple of drinks and relaxing. I’m happiest with an audio guide and exploring something new. I want to see everything, and can pack in a lot into one vacation (like when I went on a 2 week holiday to Portugal and Belgium and in 14 days was in 6 cities, and 7 hotels).

The other difference is that I love to go to a city with a rough idea of what I want to see (Rome- see the Vatican, Coliseum and Trevi fountain, eat pasta and gelato, drink wine) and then sort out the details once there. Assen is a planner and wants to have a plan in place (what time we’re leaving the hotel, where we’re going, how we’re getting there, etc.).

Once we knew each other’s travel styles, we both had to adapt to meet each other half-way. For us, that means that we won’t go to multiple places on one holiday, and we put a semi-plan in place. It’s not as detailed as Assen would like, and it’s more than I would put in place for myself. But this allows us both to be happy.

Our second trip together, was a 4 day trip to Prague. We planned in advance of what there was to see, and which day we would see the main sites. We took lots of time to relax, enjoying the beer and food- and we both had a great time.

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Step 2: Compromise

As I said earlier, I want to see everything, and could spend every free second traveling somewhere different. Since Assen doesn’t have that same passion for traveling, we’ve run into issues trying to plan our holidays. Especially when there’s a long weekend- as to me, that screams “WEEKEND GET-AWAY” but to him screams “Time to relax, sleep in late, play poker and maybe clean the house”.

So how do we sort that out?

For starters, I try and do some traveling without him. This year, I went to Belgium by myself, as well as Austria (Vienna) and Hungary (Budapest). I don’t mind traveling on my own, so this works well for us. I’ve also had friends and family come visit me, and that’s been a great way for me to travel more without Assen feeling like he always has to come.

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The other side of this, is I try and do less traveling. This means sometimes for long weekends, we do just stay in the UK and have a quiet weekend. Sometimes that means exploring somewhere within the UK (such as when we went to Baths last July) and sometimes that means actually just staying at home for 3 days, and doing nothing!

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Assen also does more traveling than he otherwise would. Since we’ve been together, we’ve gone to: Paris, Rome (aforementioned first trip), Prague, Bulgaria, New York, Germany, and Scotland. This is probably double the holidays he would’ve gone on if it wasn’t for me.

Step 3: Understanding

I think we all like to think that relationships other than our own are easy, and people get along all the time. But that’s just not true! (and if yours is, well then don’t tell me- cause I don’t wanna know)

As Assen and I have continued traveling, we’ve managed to find the right balance for us. He travels more than he’d like to, and I travel less than I’d like to. I know that he’s traveling more than he wants to, so I try and make sure I tell him that I’m grateful, and plan special things in our trip that he’d like or be interested in; like stopping for 1L beers in Munich

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He know that I’d like to be traveling, so when we’re not, he’ll try and plan a day-trip to London, or a day out exploring Cambridge to make it more interesting for me.

We’ll never agree 100% on how best to vacation, but we can now laugh at our first trip together, and have found a balance that keeps us both happy.

So those are my 3 steps for traveling with a boyfriend who doesn’t really like to travel. Anyone else out there in the same boat? What do you do? Or- if you’re the one who doesn’t like to travel, what’s your approach for balance?

Edinburgh for New Years

Happy Friday friends!

I’m a tad late on my post, but better late than never right? So, without further ado- my recap of my trip to Edinburgh.

Assen and I decided to go to Edinburgh after much, much deliberation. I think I’ve mentioned before, but it was his Mom’s birthday on the 26 Dec and she wanted to go somewhere for her birthday. We spent a lot of time researching different areas to go- Turkey, Malta, Spain, Portugal…but they were all very expensive! Finally, she decided she would come and visit us, so then Assen’s and my focus switched to something that would be nice to do while she was visiting. I’ve been wanting to go to Edinburgh for so long, so we decided we would head up there for New Year’s.

For those who don’t know (as I didn’t before I moved to the UK), Edinburgh is in Scotland. It is the second largest city in Scotland, and seventh in the UK. It seats the Scottish monarchy, and the Stone of Destiny. It is also a very, very pretty place!

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On the 31st December, we woke up bright and early, and hit the road. It’s about a 6.5 hour drive- which as a Canadian, I thought “That’s not bad!” and every British person responded with “You guys DROVE that far?!”.

We arrived in Edinburgh just in time to pick up our tickets for the New Years’ event we were going to. Edinburgh is a city of festivals, and New Years is no exception. They section off all of “Old Town” and have various bands playing at different stages, fireworks every hour, and thousands of people in attendance. When we were researching it, we saw it’s been highlighted as “Top 100 things to do before you die” and appeared on Discovery Channel as a top 25 world experiences.

Therefore, we went to the party with very high expectations. My final say- it was fun but not a great event to go to with your boyfriend and his mom! I think with a large group of friends it would’ve been a very different experience. It was also quite cold outside- I had bundled up with three layers on, plus a toque, scarf and gloves- so I felt fairly warm. I also felt fairly old, as there were many 18-year olds out, and they were in skirts and thin jackets- and I kept commenting how cold they must be! This 29 year old is all about warmth over looking cool!

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However, no matter how many layers you have on- 3 hours outside is cold! I found I didn’t drink anything (except for a hot chocolate) since all the alcohol they were selling was beer and ciders- and the idea of drinking something cold while outside was not very appealing at all!

We listened to some of the bands, and enjoyed wandering around seeing everything. However, by about 11, being sober in a huge street party got a little less desirable. People were puking, stumbling around, and again- it was cold!

We stayed until the fireworks at midnight (which were truly magnificent) and wished each other a Happy new Years before heading back to our hotel.

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The good part about not drinking on New Years Eve was I started 2016 feeling great! We woke up at a pretty decent time, and decided to explore Edinburgh some. Sadly, one of the top sites to see in Edinburgh is Arthur’s seat, which is about a 40 minute hike for beautiful views, and we didn’t make it to that site. Hopefully next time? Assen’s mom was still feeling cold after being outside for 3 hours the night before, and none of us had packed any kind of hiking gear- so we ended up exploring Edinburgh castle instead.

When you go to the Edinburgh castle, you first walk by “The Royal Mile” which has stunningly beautiful buildings, on an old, narrow street.

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And then, you turn around, and the castle is there. The castle is built on a hill, therefore has beautiful views of the entire city.

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I took so many pictures of the Ferris wheel- it was just so pretty to see.

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While Assen and his mom wandered around, I decided to pay the extra couple of pounds and get an audio guide. I love learning, and love audio guides when I’m touring new places. If I get bored- I can continue on, but I get to learn more about what I’m seeing. The castle included a prison, a church, as well as the Scottish royal jewels and the Stone of Destiny.

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The Scottish royal jewels are beautiful to see (unfortunately, you can’t take pictures while viewing them, so I have no pictures from viewing them) However, if you’re going- prepare for it to take a while! They have a lot of background information while you wait to see it- speaking about Mary, Queen of Scots (who became Queen when she was 6 days old, and then lived in France for most of her life, had 3 husbands, eventually fled to England and after 18 years of house arrest was beheaded), the Stone of Destiny (which is a stone which has been used for centuries for royal coronations), as well as the jewels and how they avoided destruction.

It was interesting to learn about- but since we were tight on time, it made the rest of our tour quite rushed. We were there for about 2 hours and definitely did not have a chance to see everything- mostly because we spent at least an hour waiting to see the jewels.

By the time we made it out, the sun had set, and I tried to snap a few last pictures of the beautiful scenery around us.

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That night, we had tickets to see a symphony show, as Assen’s mom loves live music. We went back to our hotel, quickly got dressed up for a night out, and headed out for dinner before the show.

Clearly Assen and I were excited…

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I snapped a quick picture before the show started. I was quite happy with our seats, as although we weren’t overly close, we could still see everything.

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At intermission, we had some wine and felt very classy.😉

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The next morning was our last morning in Edinburgh, so we woke up and got ready to head back home. But first we stopped at Rosslyn Chapel.

You may remember Rosslyn Chapel from Da Vinci Code- as it is the final chapel they go to in their quest for the Holy Grail. In real life, it’s neither confirmed nor denied that they do have any assocation with the Knights Templars, however the church itself is absolutely breathtaking.

 

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As per usual with most churches, you’re not allowed to take any pictures inside. But the carvings on the inside are truly stunning. I highly recommend checking our their website as it is beautiful! We spent over an hour here, just wandering around and identifying the various carvings.

Once we had finished at the church, we headed back to the car, and drove home. We drove through the Lake district in the UK, which is an absolutely beautiful drive. I tried to snap a quick picture- which the best one is still fairly blurry

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If you’re thinking of going to Edinburgh, I cannot recommend it enough. I absolutely loved the city and would love to go back and have more time to explore.

Sadly, since coming back from Edinburgh, I haven’t had a chance for any additional travels. I’m currently starting to plan my holidays for 2016, so if there’s somewhere in Europe that I just have to visit, please let me know!

Five: random blog survey

Hi friends,

How was everyone’s January? Does anyone else feel like you blinked and suddenly the month was over? I’m very excited for the next couple of weeks, as I have a couple of things on the horizon, which I’m not quite ready to share on here yet, but once finalised- will be quite exciting:) It should all be sorted in the next week or so, so I will keep you guys posted.

As it’s late on a Sunday night for me, I thought I would share a fun blog post I saw over on pbfingers.com a couple of days ago. So, here we go:

Five: A random blog survey (changed a bit from original version)

FIVE PLACES I’M DYING TO GO VISIT

  1. Egypt
  2. Japan
  3. Australia
  4. Amalfi Coast, Italy
  5. Cape Town, South Africa

FIVE FOODS I EAT EVERY DAY

  1. A smoothie for breakfast
  2. Fruit in the afternoon (right now, green grapes)
  3. Chocolate (currently obsessed with Lindt caramel with sea salt. AMAZING!)
  4. Wine (usually red)
  5. Almonds

FIVE TALENTS I WISH I HAD

  1. I wish I could draw/paint
  2. Singing (I’m terrible)
  3. Speaking another language (or many other languages!)
  4. I would love to be very flexible and be able to get into some of the crazy yogi moves that I can’t even dream of
  5. Interior decorating- my house is always a hodge podge of decorations that never really seem to meld together

FIVE MOVIES I COULD WATCH ON REPEAT

  1. Elf
  2. Billy Madison
  3. Sex and the City
  4. Pitch Perfect (either 1 or 2)
  5. All Disney movies

FIVE RANDOM THINGS I DID YESTERDAY

  1. Went shopping with Assen for men’s suits
  2. Drank an over priced fresh juice while out shopping because I was super thirsty
  3. Read an entire book in one sitting
  4. Baked a blueberry lemon loaf
  5. Played on buzzfeed for longer than I’m willing to admit

FIVE THINGS I DO AT WORK EVERYDAY

  1. Spend at least an hour checking my emails
  2. Message Assen on our Lynced in system
  3. Check blogs in the afternoon
  4. Drink at least 2 cups of coffee
  5. Feel stressed out about the amount of work I have to do

FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY AND GRATEFUL EVERY DAY

  1. Morning cuddles
  2. Coffee
  3. Friends (especially messaging with my friends back in Canada and knowing how they are)
  4. Planning a holiday (while I might not do this everyday, I think about traveling pretty much every day)
  5. Knowing how lucky I am with the life I’m leading, and even my biggest problems are truly very small in the scheme of things

I’d love to hear from you guys for any of the above!

I’ll be back next week with my recap of New Years in Edinburgh:)

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Christmas markets in Munich

Hi friends,

Hope you guys enjoyed the switch up last week around GMO’s. I’ve come to accept that I generally have very strong opinions, therefore I can see this becoming a semi-regular posting series around various things happening in the world- not just GMO’s, but finances, news events, food waste, etc. I’m not ever saying my opinions are right, so please always feel free to tell me your thoughts on the matter!

Switching back to my usual style of blogging, today is my recap of Munich! Assen and I headed there for a short 3 day trip pre-Christmas and I absolutely loved it.We were really back and forth about our Christmas plans this year, as it was Assen’s mom’s birthday on the 26th, and she wanted to go somewhere on her birthday. Therefore, in late November and early December, we spent a lot of times looking into different options for her birthday- we looked at Canary Islands, Malta, Croatia- but since it was around Christmas/New Year’s plus we were looking into it so late, everything was very expensive! Finally, around Dec 15 we decided she would come and see us for New Years , and that freed up our time pre-Christmas to go on a trip just Assen and I. We ended up booking our trip 5 days before we left!

We stayed in an amazing place with Air BnB- which I’ve realised I always say that and never give the link for where I stayed. If you’re staying in Munich, honestly, I can’t recommend this place enough. He was super punctual on getting back to us, left us food for breakfast and beer in the fridge! He also had a book put together of good places to eat around him, so when we arrived late on Sunday, we tried out the Greek restaurant he recommended (which was AMAZING) and then went back to our place where we shared a beer, and planned out what we would do the next day.

The morning of the 21st, we were up at a good time and took the train to Marienplatz. If you’re ever going to Germany- prepare for everything to be a “platz” which translates to “place”. Marienplatz is the central square in Munich, so is a great starting point for the city. Also- there’s a Christmas market right in the square, so it was perfect for why we were there- the Christmas markets!

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This building is the city hall. While we didn’t go inside, we admired it from many different angles as it was a truly breath-taking building. Also- Marienplatz had free wifi, so we often were standing by this building while loading Google maps for our next location!

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While I love the Christmas markets, I find I never end up buying anything from them. They sell the usual trinkets you would expect- a lot of food options, drink options, Christmas decorations, etc. German markets had beautiful hand-crafted wood figurines, which I would’ve loved to buy- but it always comes back to the question “How would we get it home?” especially on this trip, since we only had hand luggage. Instead of buying anything, we just wandered around, and then starting wandering from the center of the city, until we found the City Wall, by Karlsplatz.

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They had a skating rink, Christmas music playing, and, my favourite, mulled wine. Assen and I enjoyed a cup of it while watching people skate. I will warn everyone going to Munich- be cautious of the punch! After about one cup, you can feel the liquor in your veins- that stuff is strong!

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Unfortunately at this point, we had been wandering around for a couple of hours, were getting kind of cold, and then- it started raining! I hate wandering around in the rain (though, as evidenced by my trip to Budapest- I will do it). We knew our trip was short, so wanted to use every second we had to explore the city. To find something to do indoors, we ended up climbing the stairs in St. Peter’s church, to see the roof-tops of Munich.

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I think I’ve said it before, but I love the roof-top views of cities, and always try to find at least one place whenever I’m in a new city. However, while I love the views- I don’t enjoy the stairs! They’re often wind around a tight circle (making you dizzy when you make your way down) and if you’re claustrophobic, then you would not enjoy it! Assen snapped a picture of me in this stairwall, just to demonstrate how small the space was.

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It was still raining by the time we made our way out of the church, so we decided it was time for one of the most famous sites in Munich.

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Hofbrauhaus is one of the more famous beer halls in Munich. Munich has 6 breweries within the city walls, and they’re all sold at various pubs and beer halls. The reason they don’t move out of the city borders (where real estate would be much cheaper) is because of a little beer festival called Oktoberfest. Only the beers brewed within the city are sold during Oktoberfest- and obviously the sales of beer during that time make up for larger real estate costs.

Hofbrauhaus is actually owned by the Government, as when German’s old royal family stepped down, they “gifted” many things to the Government, including the brewery (though Assen and I have spent some time speculating how forced this gifting was). The hall was founded in 1589 and is one of Munich’s oldest beer hall. It’s a bit of a tourist trap- with the live music playing, and the gift shop in the back but I absolutely loved it and thought it was beautiful. I snapped a few pictures of the ceiling, but ended up missing the band that was playing.

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Assen and I each ordered our beers, which come out in a Litre cup. I ordered a “weiss beer” with lemonade (weiss beer is a wheat beer and is a bit sweeter) and Assen had just the house kind. I couldn’t finish mine- despite the fact that we ate full meals and sat there for quite some time.

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After our beer and food, we went back to Marienplatz, which was all lit up with Christmas lights, as well as some beautiful live Christmas caroling. We hung around for awhile, just listening to the singers and finally feeling in the Christmas mood.

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We headed home pretty early that first day, as we had a big day the next day. When I had first started looking into “What to do in Munich”, one of the big things that popped up was the Neuschwanstein castle. Made famous by “Sleeping Beauty”, which the castle in the Disney movie is inspired by, the castle was built in nineteenth century and is truly beautiful. It’s a bit of a trek from Munich, so we booked a day long tour and made a day of it.

First up, was this beautiful small town, Oberammergau, which is famous for its wood carvings. I loved this little town as it was so small and quaint, and had beautiful paintings on the building. We had some time to check out the cuckoo clocks here, and wander around before we headed back on the bus.

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Next up was the castle Linderhof. Because it was a guided tour, while on the bus, we learnt a bit about Kind Ludwig II, who built both Linderhof and Neuschwanstein castle. He was an interesting character! He was the King from 1864, however, was very disillusioned with his rule, since he wanted to be an absolute monarch, but at that time, was more of a figurehead as Germany had elected officials (also he was the King of Bravia, which only made up a small part of the country Germany). He was obsessed with building, building 3 castles during his rule, and having plans in place for another 2. As he aged, he got quite fat and lost a lot of his teeth, therefore he created these palaces so he would never have to see anyone- including features like a table that could be raised into the kitchen, so not even a servant would have to bring him his food.

Because of the cost of his castle, officials decided they needed to get him out of power, and had a psychiatrist declare him insane, and therefore he was removed from power. The day after this all happened, the psychiatrist came to visit him where he was being kept outside of Munich, and the two of them went for a walk around the grounds. They were later found both drowned in a lake, and to this day, no one knows what happened.

Assen and I had decided not to go inside this castle (as it was extra from our tour and only a 20 minute tour on the inside), so we wandered up to the outside of the castle to enjoy the view and then wandered around the grounds while discussing the story of King Ludwig.

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After that castle, we headed back on the bus for our final stop of the day- Neuschwanstein. I was excited!

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The castle was beautiful! It was never finished (due to the King being removed from power and then passing away), so the tour is around only those rooms which are finished. Unfortunately you can’t take pictures inside the castle, so I don’t have any from inside, but even the outside was breathtaking.

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It was a great day- and definitely worth the price for the tour. By the time we got back, it was about 7 pm, and we were pretty tired from the day so we had a quick dinner (at a different beer hall) and then headed to bed.

Our final day in Munich was a beautiful sunny day. We decided to walk from our place, up to the English Gardens, which are another big thing to see while you’re in Munich. We under-estimated how far we actually were from the gardens however, so by the time we even got to the entrance, we had already walked 12 km’s, and had been walking for quite some time. However the entire time we were walking along the water, so it was a beautiful walk.

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After all that walking, we decided we were ready to sit for awhile and enjoy the last couple of hours of our trip. We felt like we had seen many of the main sites to see in Munich, but hadn’t kept ourselves so busy that we hadn’t enjoyed our time together.

Usually while on holiday, I try and eat at different places every time, however for Munich- we decided we would go back to Hofbrauhaus and enjoy one more beer (and the pretzels, which were AMAZING). This time, I captured the band while they were playing!

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After enjoying all the food we could stuff into ourselves, and a couple of beers, we were back to the airport for a late flight home!

I absolutely loved Munich- and Assen and I are already discussing the possibility of going back to experience Oktoberfest. There are also other cities in Germany which I’d love to see, so I hope to be back to this great country soon.

Has anyone else been to Munich, or anywhere else in Germany?